There’s only three months of summer. Make them count!
Have you started writing your summer bucket list yet? The challenge is simple: brainstorm fun, family-focused activities, moments, and memories to do before the end of the summer — and then get started with the fun! Notebook - check, Pen - check, fun ideas - check. Start out in a notebook but don't stay in that notebook. Take the time to make it pretty, and display it someplace where you will be reminded of all the fun you can have this summer. It's too easy to just stash a notebook somewhere and forget about it. Here are some websites for inspiration.
Are you looking for ideas to fill your summer bucket list? Here are some places to get you started:
Where do you find inspiration for your summer bucket list? Come on .... let us know, or better yet .... Blog about it!!
A Parent's Guide to Insurance for College Students
Students heading off to college, especially for the first time, face many insurance issues that they or you may not have considered. Here's a quick look at four of those issues.
Renter's insurance. Probably the most overlooked form of insurance coverage when a student heads for college is property insurance. Students today tend to own more valuable personal items in their dorm or off-campus apartment than in the past, and campuses are not immune to theft or damage. The Independent Insurance Agents of America estimates 100,000 property crimes occur on campuses annually (that doesn't count off-campus crimes). Beyond clothing and bedding, a student's room may contain a DVD player, television, computer and stereo equipment. Students in apartments will likely have additional items such as kitchenware and furnishings.
The school or landlord will probably not cover loss of these contents in such events as fire or theft and the parent's homeowner's policy may or may not cover the items. For students living in college housing, policies usually cover contents up to ten percent of the contents coverage of the parent's policy. For example, if the parents are covered for $75,000, their student is covered up to $7,500. See whether your policy will cover contents and to what dollar maximum. You may need to buy extra coverage through your carrier or even buy a separate renter's policy.
Your homeowner's policy almost certainly will not cover contents in off-campus housing. You will most likely need to buy a separate renter's policy. Some policies will let roommates share the policy. Renter's policies are affordable, with annual premiums running $150 to $200 for coverage of $15,000 in personal property and $100,000 to $300,000 in liability.
Health insurance. First, find out what coverage your own medical policy will provide for your child, particularly if your child is going to school out of state. It may not cover anything but emergency care. If the policy will still cover your child for routine care, he or she may need to switch to a primary care physician closer to school, or you may need to get local referrals for your student's out-of-state care.
Age is another factor. Policies generally stop coverage for a child once they reach a certain age, even if they are still a dependent. That cutoff age typically is 23, but could be earlier. Policies also will frequently not cover a child who is a part-time student.
If you don't have your own medical coverage, or your policy's coverage is limited, consider student health insurance that many colleges now offer. Typically, it's affordable, though coverage may be limited (such as no coverage during summer break), with high deductibles. The student also may be able to see a doctor or nurse for free or a nominal fee at the student health center, though more extensive care such as X-rays usually will have fees to cover.
Auto insurance. Seven in ten students have cars at school, according to the Independent Insurance Agents of America. What impact having a family car at college will have on premiums depends in part on where your student goes to school. In some cases, coverage could go up, in other cases it could go down. Regardless, failure to tell the carrier that your child has a car at school could jeopardize subsequent claims. Students earning good grades may actually find their premium reduced.
If your child lives out of the house and doesn't have a car at school, talk to your insurance agent to see if you can get a premium reduction now that the child isn't a regular user. You could save hundreds of dollars or more, particularly if you've been paying high premiums for teenage drivers and the student is going to school far from home.
Life and disability insurance. Ideally, you should already have sufficient coverage to ensure that your student will be able to finish college should you die or be disabled. However, let this column serve as a reminder in the event you haven't looked at those policies lately.
The easiest way to save on Windstorm Insurance
Florida is just one of the several US states that often gets hit by windstorms and violent hurricanes. Having windstorm insurance is crucial in order for residents to become fully prepared and equipped in safeguarding their homes. Given the current state of the economy, residents are wary of paying for anything beyond the absolute essentials, windstorm insurance included. However there are some practical steps that homeowners can take in order to lower their monthly outlay for insurance. A good strategy is to have a wind mitigation assessment done.
Since Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, Florida has taken the lead in adopting regulatory provisions related to hurricane resistant construction. Shortly after Andrew, Florida Statute 627.0629 was adopted to require residential property insurance providers in Florida to provide “discounts, credits, or other rate differentials, or other appropriate reductions in deductibles” for residential properties where construction methods that have been shown to reduce loss caused by windstorms are employed. Incentives are required to be offered for mitigation techniques that address “roof strength, roof covering performance, roof-to-wall strength, wall-to-floor-to-foundation strength, opening protection, and window, door, and skylight strength.” Insurance providers are required to provide a percentage discount range for the mitigation measure to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to be available to homeowners.
Wind mitigation inspections are probably the easiest way to lower your Florida homeowners insurance (and maybe your mortgage payment). Most homes in Florida have some built-in features that qualify for credits. A simple inspection by a wind mitigation inspector is all it takes.
A Wind Mitigation Inspection is a valuable inspection service that may not only reduce your windstorm insurance, but will also point out some areas of concern in the event of strong winds that might protect your home.
If you earned it, why not claim it?
Discounts are available for constructing house structures that withstand or are more resistant to high winds. These discounts are justified because the stronger the building structures are, the lower the damage and losses, which ultimately means reduced costs for the insurance companies. Total savings for Floridians who have ordered their wind mitigation report exceeds one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000.00) per year. We want you to get the discounts you deserve, don’t get left out.
To qualify for a Windstorm Mitigation Discount and/or rebate on your existing homeowner insurance policy, insurance companies require a licensed building professionals certification of the structure. The inspection on average saves Floridians 20% off their home insurance even if they do not have hurricane shutters. The discount is good for 5 years, then a new inspection is needed. The inspection companies charge $95-$150 on average for this inspection depending on location and the size of the home.
Wind Mitigation Inspections are available for all single family homes, townhouses, condos and commercial buildings. Homeowner's and Condo Associations also qualify for wind mitigation credits.
They will report on the wind resistance features of a certain property or real estate building. Inspectors will examine roof straps, glass structures, roof type, shutters, elevations, and other features. Once the inspection is completed, the detailed report will be forwarded to the windstorm insurance company. The provider will then calculate discounts based on the gathered inspection data. Overall, they will give the home a hurricane wind resistance rating. The number will state and define how resistant the home is to destructive hurricane winds. A low number should encourage the resident to make the necessary structural improvements in order to lower insurance rates in the future, and more importantly to be safe during a storm. The homeowner will also be given a detailed report on ways to improve the home in order to pass the next inspection. An improvement in ones rating can easily be obtained by responding to the report and making the appropriate renovations to the three main areas of the home--namely, the doors and windows, the roof, and the main structure.
If qualified, the windstorm insurance policy holder will be granted a refund from the existing policy which also includes discounts on future windstorm insurance policies. The report conducted may also include recommendations for protection against other calamities such as tornadoes and tropical storms. All in all, wind mitigation inspection is a wise move for current and potential homeowners
What qualifies for an Windstorm Mitigation Insurance Discount:
How much will you save?
The dollar value of the discounts depends on three primary factors:
The actual savings are determined by your insurance carrier. We have typically seen savings exceeding $200 per year. Windstorm mitigation discounts apply to a homeowner's policy for at least 5 years. Inspection fees average about $125. The math works out to a pretty exciting result.
A $125 investment in this report is likely
to save you money not only in year 1,
but $1,000 over the next 5 years.
Your local agent can be a real asset
There are many advantages in dealing with your hometown insurance agent. These include help in getting your windstorm inspection report turned in, and making sure you get the credit you deserve. You can send us a thank-you note for prodding you.
Making Sure Your Home Is Properly Covered for a Disaster
For many people, their home is their greatest asset, so it is crucial to avoid being underinsured. To protect their investment from disasters, homeowners should update their insurance regularly to include improvements, major purchases and increased rebuilding costs.
Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, despite the major drop off in construction activity, construction prices have actually risen significantly. Furthermore, after a disaster, materials and labor may become scare, driving repair and rebuilding costs up even further.
To properly insure your home, it is important to ask your insurance agent or company representative four key questions.
1. Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?
Your policy needs to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs. Unfortunately, some homeowners simply purchase enough insurance protection to satisfy their mortgage lender. Others confuse the real estate value of their home with what it would cost to rebuild it. Quite simply, you should have enough insurance to rebuild your home in the event that it is completely destroyed. Be sure to consider the following:
Replacement Cost Most policies cover replacement cost for damage to the structure. A replacement cost policy pays for the repair or replacement of damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality.
Extended Replacement Cost This type of policy provides additional insurance coverage of 20 percent or more over the limits in your policy, which can be critical if there is a widespread disaster that pushes up the cost of building materials and labor.
Inflation Guard This coverage automatically adjusts the rebuilding costs of your home to reflect changes in construction costs. Find out if your policy includes this coverage or if you have to purchase it separately.
Ordinance or Law coverage If your home is badly damaged, you may be required to rebuild it to meet new (and often stricter) building codes. Ordinance or law coverage pays a specific amount toward these costs.
Water Back-Up This coverage insures your property for damage from sewer or drain back-up. Most insurers offer it as an add-on to a standard policy.
Flood Insurance Standard home insurance policies provide coverage for disasters such as fire, lightning and hurricanes. They do not include coverage for flood (including flooding from a hurricane). Flood insurance is available through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov), but can be purchased from the same agent or company representative who provides you with your home or renters insurance. Make sure to purchase flood insurance for the structure of your house, as well as for the contents. Excess Flood Protection, which provides higher limits of coverage than the NFIP in the event of catastrophic loss by flooding, is available from some insurers. Keep in mind that there is a 30-day waiting period before the insurance is valid.
2. Do I have enough insurance to replace all of my possessions?
Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for your personal possessions for approximately 50 percent to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. So if you have $100,000 worth of coverage on the structure of your home, you would be covered for $50,000 to $70,000 worth of the contents of your home, depending on the policy.
The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory, which details everything you own and the estimated cost to replace these items if they are stolen or destroyed by a disaster. To help with this task, you can download the I.I.I.’s free home inventory software [link]. Remember to keep your home inventory in a safe place, and take it with you if you need to evacuate your home during a disaster.
You can insure your possessions in two ways: by their actual cash value or their replacement cost. Make sure you review with your agent or company representative which type of coverage is best for your particular situation.
3. Do I have enough coverage for additional living expenses?
Coverage for additional living expenses pays the extra costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can't live in it due to an insured disaster such as a hurricane. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, transportation and other living expenses incurred while your home is inaccessible or being rebuilt. It is important to note that it covers only those expenses that are over and above your regular living expenses, so it would not cover your mortgage, or regular trips to the grocery store. If you rent out part of your house, this coverage also reimburses you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.
Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage for about 20 percent of the insurance on your house. Some companies will sell you a policy that provides you with an unlimited amount of loss of use coverage, for a limited amount of time.
Make sure you know exactly how much coverage you have for additional living expenses, and whether there is a time limit. If the standard coverage is not adequate, it can generally be increased for an additional premium.
4. Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?
Although not a key element in disaster planning, it is also important to have adequate liability protection. This covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or your family members may cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by pets. Liability insurance pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for any damages a court rules you must pay—up to the limits of your policy. Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available.
It is important to purchase enough liability insurance to protect your assets. If the standard liability coverage in your homeowners policy is not sufficient, you may need an excess liability, or umbrella, policy, which provides additional coverage over and above what is covered in your home (and auto) insurance policy.
Preparing for a Hurricane
Tips to Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Property
Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30. To prepare for a hurricane and other disasters, the I.I.I. recommends the following five tips.
1. Buy enough insurance
2. Get the right type of policy
3. Create a Home Inventory
A home inventory will help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process and substantiate losses for income tax purposes. A detailed home inventory is also helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid.
To make creating a home inventory easier, the I.I.I. provides free Web-based software at KnowYourStuff.org. Know Your Stuff allows you to organize easily and list your possessions, as well as add digital photographs of your valuables and upload scanned receipts. The program provides free, secure storage of your inventory on Amazon Web Services. Storing your inventory online gives you the ability to access it from any computer in the event your own computer is damaged or destroyed.
Don’t be caught unprepared, get it all “On the Record”!
4. Prepare an Evacuation Plan
Plan ahead and practice so that your evacuation is safe, smooth and fast. In an emergency you may have only a few minutes to gather your important papers and leave your home, possibly for good. (NB: be sure to include pets in evacuation plan.) Talk with your children about natural disasters. In the end, they will be less scared if you have discussed it ahead of time. They are going to hear and see it out the windows, so better to be prepared and have an understanding of what is happening.
Have the following ready to go:
5. When evacuation is not an option
6. Hurricane-Proof Your Home
7. Hurricane Preparedness for Business Owners
Prepare a business continuity plan. Having an emergency plan in the event of a natural disaster will help your business quickly recover.
We'll be happy to help!
We're ready to handle your insurance for Autos, Homes, Property and Casualty, Boats Motorcycles, and all your Umbrellas insurance needs.
New coverage or changes to existing policies;
Give us a call. (407) 290-6262
Top 5 Summer Roadway Issues That Can Affect Your Insurance
1. Environmental challenges.
One of the biggest dangers that comes with summer weather conditions is that of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms can damage your car in several ways, for example, lightening strikes, hail and falling tree limbs. If you’re out on the road, thunderstorms can also make driving conditions more difficult and contribute to collisions.
The best defense against this problem is to park your car in a closed garage. If that’s not possible, try to park your car away from large trees when a thunderstorm is on the way.
2. Potholes and other difficult road conditions.
One of the most common challenges that drivers can face in terms of road conditions are potholes. Potholes are caused by simple wear and tear of the asphalt over time. Hitting a pothole at a high speed can damage your car’s suspension, as well as damaging the alignment and your tires.
Most auto insurance policies cover damage caused by potholes. However the damage they cause may be considered an “at fault” accident and cause increased insurance premiums.
The best thing you can do to avoid them is to drive within speed limits. This gives you a little more time to see potholes coming and lessens the impact damage when you do hit them. The same goes for other difficult road conditions such as gravel roads and construction zones.
As a side note, be particularly careful in construction zones since speeding or careless driving inside a construction zone can result in a substantially increased fine if you receive a traffic ticket for this offence.
3. Extra driving.
Most of us tend to drive more during the summer. Summer is the prime time for vacations, sight-seeing and cottage trips.
With the added kilometers, however, comes added risk. The simple fact is that, statistically, the more you drive, the greater your chance of being involved in a collision. Here are some things to keep in mind:
4. Vehicle Maintenance.
The added driving also means a greater need for vehicle maintenance. It’s a good idea to take your car in for a tune up and an oil change before you begin a long road trip. Here are some other things to check before you go:
5. Towing boats or trailers
One of the more unique challenges of summer is pulling a boat or trailer with you along the highway. Your car insurance covers the physical damage to your vehicle, but not collision or comprehensive coverage of the boat or trailer you’re hauling with it.
As a result, you may be required to have separate insurance for whatever you’re towing. This protects you financially from any damage to the trailer from an accident in which you are considered at fault.
Fortunately, car insurance policies do include third party liability coverage which covers the cost of any damage you may cause. If another driver were to damage your boat or trailer as a result of an accident for which they were considered at fault, that driver’s third party liability insurance would cover the damage.
Preparation is the key to protecting yourself. Keeping these issues in mind can help you handle the driving challenges that come with summer and vacation travel, and ensure that you have a safe and happy summer.
The content of this
newsletter is taken from sources that are believed to be reliable.